BJP citadel intact, with major breaches

Everything seems to be falling apart in the BJP citadel.

By Roshan Kumar
  • Published 9.11.15
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(From left) Sushil Kumar Modi, Nand Kishore Yadav and Mangal Pandey at the BJP office in Patna on Sunday. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh

Everything seems to be falling apart in the BJP citadel.

Considered a party with a strong urban base, the BJP did retain its four seats in Patna urban — Bankipore, Patna Sahib, Kumhrar and Digha — amid the greenwash elsewhere, but the margins of victory were glaringly low when compared to the 2010 elections. 

The party relied on its senior leader Nand Kishore Yadav and fielded him from Patna Sahib, a constituency from where he has been invincible since 1995 when it was known as Patna East. In the 2010 Assembly elections, he had won by 65,337 votes. But on Sunday, he barely managed to scrape through — the margin of victory was a paltry 2,779 votes. His opponent, Santosh Mehta of the RJD, gave Nand Kishore a tough fight. 

Balram Singh, a trader in Patna City, said: “Santosh Mehta had worked with Nand Kishore Yadav for more than a decade, he knew all his (Nand Kishore’s) strengths and weaknesses.”

Sources said the other reason behind the leader facing a tough challenge was because the constituency had a sizeable number of Yadav and Kushwaha voters.

 “The Kushwaha community favoured Santosh Mehta this time as he belongs to the same caste,” a BJP leader said. “The Lalu factor simply added to the effect and the Yadav community turned away from Nand Kishore. He had to bank mainly on the votes of the upper castes and traders.” 

In Bankipore and Kumhrar, it was the same story. Nitin Naveen, son of the late BJP leader Navin Kishore Prasad Sinha, has been contesting from Bankipore for two consecutive terms now. Naveen was pitted against the Congress’s Kumar Ashish. Naveen had defeated the Congress’s Rajesh Sinha by a margin of 62,000 votes in the 2010 Assembly polls, but this time the margin was 39,767.

Similarly, Kumhrar had voted for BJP candidate Arun Kumar Sinha in 2010 and he had boasted of the highest victory margin in the state, 67,808 votes. The margin has come down to half this year. Sinha won by 37,275 votes.

“The BJP candidates who have been winning from Patna district for several terms were very enthusiastic about their victory,” said a BJP leader on condition of anonymity. “This overconfidence was wrong. The same overconfidence was reflected in the attitude of the BJP candidates and cadres on the polling days. There were no polling agents from BJP in many of the booths.”

Sources said BJP’s Patna Sahib MP Shatrughan Sinha’s series of anti-party statements had also played a role in Patna, which has a sizeable number of upper caste Kayasth voters.

The Digha seat was also a BJP stronghold, where the party fielded Sanjeev Chaurasia — the son of senior BJP leader Ganga Prasad. Pitted against JDU’s Rajeev Ranjan, Chaurasia won with a margin of 24,779 votes. 

On his party’s poor performance in the urban seats, BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi gave a stock answer: “The party will introspect on the reason behind the performance.”